Here’s my review – now I have to go find the first book in the duet.

If I finish a book and then am vaguely dissatisfied with my other reading options, that’s when I know I finished something good. This was definitely the case with Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamquake, my little experiment in reading the sequel before the first book. Since it won a Printz Honor, and should thus be able to stand alone, I wanted to find out for myself. Would I still enjoy it without the backstory? Would the characters and world still be engaging? Would it feel incomplete?

It does feel complete. While the beginning was a little confusing, figuring out who is related to who, how old they all are, the parameters of the semi-historical, semi-fantastical world they inhabit – it was no more so than any good, demanding book that throws you into the action and lets you figure things out as you go along. This quality, plus the tone, tight plotting, reticent characters, sense of place, and the historical/fantastical combo, all reminded me of Megan Whalen Turner’s books. So if you liked those aspects of her books – particularly The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia – then I definitely recommend this.

The ending was incredibly satisfying, and has been on my mind ever since I finished it. Things are wrapped up, but not too tidily. Now I get to go back and read Dreamhunter and find out if any of my guesses about it are correct – I avoided reading any plot summaries or reviews in the interests of a fair and balanced experiment. Overall, a success. Good for a somewhat patient reader looking for a story with good characters, an intriguing premise, and plenty of maps to consult.